Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Follett Tapes

The Detroit Lions are falling back into the spotlight, finally. But this time, it is not because Ndamukong Suh, Calvin Johnson, Jahvid Best, the Pro Bowl, the four game win streak to end the year—none of that. This is time the credit goes to Zack Follett. Yes, I said it. The 7th round pick out of California in 2009 angered many fans in a radio interview on Tuesday on ESPN Radio 1430 AM out of Fresno, California.  What would a Lions interview be without discussing the injuries of the Lions’ star quarterback? That’s when Follett made a big mistake. He referred to Stafford as a “China doll.”

“He is a china doll right now. Anytime he gets hit, he goes down,” Follett said on ESPN 1430 AM.

That is when the Lions were released from their cages, so to speak. Local media outlets in Detroit were all over the story while it was already spreading across the Internet.

Later, Follett went back on his comments, saying it was a “poor choice of words.” I agree. Follett also went to his Twitter page to clarify his comments.

“That’s my bad on the china doll comment, just referring to his injury. Have no room to talk I was more broken then anyone this yr.”

“Matts a baller I see it everyday on the field, and have no doubt he's going to do work next season!”

But did the media jump the gun on Follett? They did, according to his interview.

“In the quote, after I got done just saying that, I definitely have all the faith that he can lead us and be that quarterback that we know he can be. I know the challenge that he has, and we’re just trying to keep him healthy. So basically, if I could re-say it, I would just say he’s been injured; I wouldn’t call him a china doll,” Follett said to the Detroit Free Press.

“It wasn’t a knock on him,” Follett said. “He’s just had some bad luck early in his career, but if he gets healthy I compare him to Dan Marino in terms of his arm strength and accuracy.”

Lets take a look at some of the headlines: read: “Lions’ Stafford called out by teammate.” said: “During a Tuesday radio interview Lions WLB Zack Follett questioned Matthew Stafford's resiliency and toughness.” That is a large exaggeration.

If that wasn’t enough, Tom Kowalski of weighed in. Kowalski said that if Stafford wanted to make a comeback towards Follett he could say, ‘If you think I'm a china doll, I'll be playing next year and you won't be.’ Kowalski made the same mistake Follett did: Not keeping his mouth shut. I think that was an unnecessary joke by Kowalski after the tremendously dangerous injury Follett was dealt with. It was unclear if he was even going to be able to walk again after he took a defenseless hit in New York against the Giants this season. It is still unknown whether Follett will see a football field again, because the issue is that if he gets hit again, he may become paralyzed. Kowalski said it was not a cheap shot.

Follett posted a video via his Facebook page and Twitter. Follett said, “Satan wants him to strike back at Tom (Kowalski).” He mentioned that Satan is working through the media (if I am understanding him correctly). He also said that this is part of “Satan’s plot to destroy me.” This is all a little too deep for me. Follett is very religious (if you didn’t realize that already), but can he really point the blame at “Satan” when he said the comments were “my bad”?

Just when you thought Follett couldn’t say anything worse, he decided to trash the Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler on 97.1 the Ticket, where he went to also clarify his comments about Stafford.

“I’m glad we have Matt Stafford instead of the Bears’ quarterback because he goes out there and plays with separated shoulders and wins games (referencing the 2009 game vs. the Cleveland Browns),” Follett said. Again, Follett needs to keep his mouth zipped.

Stafford is a hot topic in Detroit. He has played 13 games and missed 19 in his 2 seasons with the Lions. But when he is in the game, there is no question he is tremendous (just look at the New York Jets game before he left due to injury and how the team collapsed). Suh might be the most popular player in Detroit, but Stafford is still the franchise. Winning in Detroit relies on Stafford being healthy. Follett was giving the impression that his health (therefore winning) is in jeopardy. If one of Stafford’s teammates calls him a “china doll,” what does that say to the fans? A lot of fans have already nicknamed Matt the “glass man.” Maybe Follett didn’t have bad intentions, but he did realize what he said was not the right thing at all. It makes the team look bad, Stafford look bad and him look bad. Since when is Follett the voice of reason anyway? It was blown out of proportion a little bit. Follett did not blast him during the interview. One line is all it took for the uproar. But why not just say that he has been unlucky with his injuries, then go on to talk him up?

The point is, Zack, you have to watch what you say. You might not be the face of the team, but you are part of the team. You are way closer to Stafford than any writer or fan. What you say does matter. I think he realizes that now.

[Watch the response by Follett after all the commotion of his comments:]

Just a note: This isn't a piece bashing him. I really like the guy. He looked good in the games in played this season and wish him the best with his recovery. I had the opportunity to meet him this year and he is a really nice guy. He has played great in some of the games he was in this year, he has a lot of potential to play LB with the Lions if he is able to play. 

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